For me, Christmas Day is bittersweet.
Don't get me wrong. This is my favorite time of year and I love, love, love Christmas. I love the kindness and generosity of perfect strangers as we go about our days. I love the spirit of giving and caring that seems to infuse everything we do. I love the sense of the holy that graces us when we least expect it. I love trying to come up with the perfect gift for each person. I hate that it ends so quickly. Months of thought and planning go into making this day special. Heading off to bed with a Christmas Tree surrounded by festively wrapped gifts and I'm excited to see the faces of my children when they get the barely dreamed of perfect gift. Yet, scarcely an hour and a half after we wake up, the presents are open, the kids are thrilled and the day seems to be done. We still have a terrific breakfast, followed by an awesome dinner, but it seems so quiet! The excitement seems to pass so quickly. I miss the Christmases of my childhood, surrounded by extended family and friends...beginning Christmas Eve and boisterously continuing long into the night on Christmas Day. Maybe my parents have completely different memories of those same Christmases, but for me, they set the gold standard for holidays.
The decision to move away from So California meant that we were moving away from our respective families and the possibilities of those times. The holidays are when we feel this distance most poignantly. We are aware of the empty spaces at our dinner table. We try to fill those spaces with phone calls throughout the day, but we all know they are a poor substitute for the smiling faces we miss. We're making more and more friends here and our children are getting older, so we're not too far away from the time when our children will be bringing their special guests to our dinners. I, for one, can hardly wait.
In the meantime, only 364 days til Christmas!